Three people went swimming in the frigid waters of Haro Strait this week – unintentionally.
“You don’t want to be in the water if you don’t have to be,” Oak Bay police Const. Larry Worock said.
Winds were high on Sunday and the waters off Oak Bay Marina were choppy, while the temperature at its highest was 3 C. A man in his mid-40s and another in his 20s were crabbing from a rigid-hull dinghy about 90 metres east of the marina when one stood up to pull in a trap.
As his boat bounced in the waves, the standing man lost his footing and plunged into the water and the dinghy capsized.
“(Given) where they were, probably if they hadn’t been seen right away they may not have been seen for a while,” Worock said.
Two sailors, a married couple, were preparing their 18-foot sailboat at the marina for a day at sea when they saw the dingy flip over. The couple motored to where the two men were signalling for help.
Both men overboard were wearing life jackets, Worock said. But the older man’s clothes were completely water-logged and he was difficult for the couple to pull from the ocean. They spent about 10 minutes in the water.
Once the wet men were on board the sailboat, they were wrapped in a tarp to protect against the wind and driven back to the docks.
“(The couple) pretty much saved their lives,” Worock said.
By the time the sailboat returned to the marina, Oak Bay Sea Rescue Society, the Coast Guard and Oak Bay police and fire crews had been called.
The older man suffered from hypothermia. “He was so cold he couldn’t shiver,” Worock said. The man was taken by ambulance to Royal Jubilee Hospital. The younger man was cold, but not ill.
“It’s a boater’s legal responsibility to come to the aid of somebody (in distress),” Worock said.
Another water-rescue operation was required early Monday.
A man in his 60s who had gone out to sea in his outboard inflatable, went overboard 30 metres from shore, despite calmer waters. Luckily, he was wearing his survival suit.
The man stayed with his boat and eventually noticed someone coming toward him in a rowboat.
The rescuer pulled the man from the water and he was warmed with blankets once back on dry land.